31st of October 2012
The Chinese fifth-generation jet fighter, the Shenyang FC-31 Gyrfalcon (aka J-31 or J-35) took to the sky for the first time on this date in aviation history.
The FC-31 Prototype
The FC-31 is a mid-sized fighter powered by two engines, developed independently as a private project by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation.
The program was also known as the F-60, this is supposed to be the export version, while the FC-31 was aimed at the internal market.
During a high-speed taxi test, the aircraft became briefly airborne, however, the real first flight took place on this day in 2012, it lasted only 10 minutes. The aircraft has some unmistakable stealth features, like the engine inlets and angles in the fuselage structure and an internal weapons bay. It is unknown how "stealthy" the aircraft is.
Just over two years after the first flight the J-31 (FC-31) was publicly unveiled on the 12th of November 2014 at an airshow.
During the airshow, the aircraft was displayed as a static aircraft, but another aircraft was flown during the show. It flew its complete display with afterburner engaged and apparently it needed the extra thrust to compensate for aerodynamic deficiencies. The static aircraft had some marked differences compared to the flying example, it was rumoured these were aerodynamic improvements. The prototype was powered by Klimov RD-93 engines, but it is believed the Chinese Guizhou WS-13 would power the production aircraft.
A naval version of the FC-31
Two days ago, on the 29th of October 2021, an upgraded version of the FC-31 (a naval variant) made its first flight, it is said to be designated as a J-35. It is believed it will be the fighter to be based on the new series of Chinese aircraft carriers, the Type 003 aircraft carrier. Some (preliminary) specifications, based on images and limited data available;
Crew: one (pilot)
Length: 17.3 m (56 ft 9 in)
Wingspan: 11.5 m (37 ft 9 in)
Height: 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in)
Wing area: 50 m2 (540 sq ft)
Max takeoff weight: 28,000 kg (61,729 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × WS-19 afterburning turbofae;ns, 110 kN (24,000 lbf) thrust each
Maximum speed: 2,200 km/h (1,400 mph, 1,200 kn)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8
Combat range: 1,250 km (780 mi, 670 nmi) on internal fuel, or 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) with external tanks